Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Liberal Studies (MALS)


Liberal Studies

First Reader

Sheldon Solomon

Second Reader

Maria Lander


Adam Smith observed in The Theory of Moral Sentiments, that people pursue wealth not to "to supply the necessities of nature" but in order to procure "superfluities" that satisfy a basic psychological need to be thought of well by others (Smith, 62). "It is not wealth that men desire, but the consideration and good opinion that wait upon riches".

We know that there is some truth to this statement, as even a cursory glance at metrics representing standards of living show them increasing 1 or 2% each year since they were first measured (in terms of GDP per capita, Tables A-1 c and A-1 d). Yet there is something in human beings that drive us to possess non-physical items not necessary for survival in endless quantities. As an example, the market for virtual goods (fake items sold in online virtual worlds) is estimated to grow to become a 2.5 billion dollar market by 2013.